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An analysis of over 50 studies suggests an association between short-term use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause and a 40 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The study, published Thursday in the journal The Lancet, reviewed data from 21,488 women who lived in North America, Europe and Australia. Researchers observed that women who used HRT for only a few years were more likely to develop the two most common types of ovarian cancer, compared to women who had never taken HRT. Those types are serous epithelial and endometrioid ovarian cancer. HRT use was not linked to an increased risk of the other two main types of ovarian cancer: mucinous and clear cell ovarian cancers.

HRT for menopause is meant to replace hormones that the body no longer makes after menopause. Doctors used to prescribe it as a standard treatment to relieve hot flashes and other menopause symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic. A large clinical study later suggested one type of the treatment— the estrogen-progestin pill Prerempo— posed more risks than benefits, and doctors started to become less inclined to prescribe it as a result. Those risks included heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer.

However, that decrease in use has now leveled off, according to a news release for the current study. About 6 million women in the United Kingdom and the United States use HRT today to relieve menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal symptoms like dryness, itchiness, burning and discomfort during sexual intercourse.

The new research analyzed use of the two most common types of HRT used during menopause: those containing only estrogen or those containing a combination of estrogen and progestagen.

Study author Sir Richard Peto, a medical statistics and epidemiology professor at the University of Oxford, said in the news release that his team’s research suggests that, among women who take HRT for five years starting at about age 50, there will be about one extra ovarian cancer diagnosis for every 1,000 users and one extra death from ovarian cancer for every 1,700 users.

For the meta-analysis, over 100 scientists worldwide analyzed individual participant data from 52 studies— a body of research that they say encompassed all of the epidemiological evidence ever gathered on HRT use and ovarian cancer.

Study authors saw an increased risk of ovarian cancer among current users as well as those who had used the treatment within the past five years, but that risk declined over time after stopping treatment. But, among women who had used HRT for at least five years, that risk remained 10 years later.

“The definite risk of ovarian cancer even with less than five years of HRT is directly relevant to today’s patterns of use— with most women now taking HRT for only a few years— and has implications for current efforts to revise U.K. and worldwide guidelines,” study author Dame Valerie Beral, epidemiology professor at the University of Oxford, said in the news release.

Researchers noted the increased risk was not altered by the age at which HRT began, body size, past use of oral contraceptives— which are thought to protect against ovarian cancer— hysterectomy, alcohol use, tobacco use, or family history of breast and ovarian cancer.

Current HRT guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as those in the U.S. and Europe don’t mention ovarian cancer as a risk, the news release noted. The U.K. guidelines associate a risk with long-term use.

Here are 7 beverages you should avoid consuming at any time, for your health and your waist line:

1. Soft Drinks (soda, pop, carbonated beverages, fizzy drinks, etc.)

There isn’t enough bad things to say about soft drinks of any kind. Soft drinks account for more than a quarter of all drinks consumed in the United States. That works out to at least one 12-ounce can per day for every man, woman and child. They are estimated to be at least one-third of the problem related to child obesity. Carbonated soda pop provides more added sugar in a typical 2-year-old toddler’s diet than cookies, candies and ice cream combined.

Many sodas and diet soft drinks approach the pH level of battery acid in terms of corrosiveness and erosion of tooth enamel.

Besides the fact that diet soda causes dehydration, weight gain, mineral depletion, diabetes and caffeine addiction, research shows they’re also responsible for an increased risk of vascular events such as stroke, heart attack, and vascular death.

Artificially sweetened soft drinks are marketed as healthier alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages, due to their lack of calories. However, past research has shown very serious long-term health consequences due to highly toxic additives and artificial sweeteners such as sodium benzoate, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose and high-fructose corn syrup.

Men who drink just one 300ml can of soda per day are much more likely to require treatment for a serious form of cancer than those who never consumed the drink. One soda a day can raise aggressive cancer risk by 40 percent.

One study of more than 66,000 women found those who drank artificially sweetened drinks were more 60 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those who indulged in regular versions of the same beverage.

Another recent study published in the journal Respirology revealed that soft drink consumption is associated with lung and breathing disorders including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

2. Tap Water

If you’re still drinking tap water, you may be hiding from a flurry of information exposing its dangers.

Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

Many readers know fluoride is a chemical waste product of the fertilizer industry that is problematic environmentally in regard to how to dispose of it. So the government and the industry figured out that putting it in our drinking water would solve the problem.

Studies have shown that fluoride can pull lead from pipes and add that to the poisonous mix coming from our taps. That might be the reason fluoride also seems to bring copper and aluminum with it as well as the lead.

Animal studies have demonstrated evidence of fluoride’s toxic effects on brain tissue. These include brain cell damage, reduced lipid content, impairment in anti-oxidant defense systems, increased aluminum uptake, and the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. These are the plaques which are indicative of Alzheimer’s Disease. Maybe this explains why many dogs seem to prefer to drink from puddles than their own tap-filled water dishes.

Depending on the country, cardiovascular disease is typically either the number one or two cause of death. A new study published in Nuclear Medicine Communications Journal has concluded that increased uptake of fluoride in arteries may be associated with an increased cardiovascular risk.

Just in case the toxicity levels of fluoride were not sufficient in the water supply, are now proposing that lithium could soon be added to drinking water.

An investigation by the Associated Press (AP) has also revealed that the drinking water of at least 41 million people in the United States is contaminated with pharmaceutical drugs.

Drinking tap water contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a serious health risk. The highest measured levels of PFOA in human blood in the US, other than factory exposures, are in people who have consumed PFOA contaminated tap water.

Lead pipes once used routinely in municipal water distribution systems are a well-recognized as a source of dangerous lead contamination. Construction crews have been feverishly replacing these pipes in major cities in Canada and the U.S, but only partially using brass in conjunction with copper lines. The research shows that joining old lead pipes with new copper lines using brass fittings spurs galvanic corrosion that can dramatically increase the amount of lead released into drinking water supplies.

3. Sport Drinks

The sports drinks market keeps rising because unsuspecting consumers keep feeding into the marketing ploy. Worldwide, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry sponsoring some of the biggest athletes. But in a word, it’s “crap”.

Gatorade is almost as corrosive as coke. Researchers at the University of Iowa’s College of Dentistry found that energy drinks and sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Red Bull, eroded the enamel more than soda and fruit juices. In a 2008 study published in the journal Nutrition Research, the dentists soaked extracted human teeth in various liquids for 25 hours, and then measured the structural changes, or lesions.

“Power drinks can be quite acidic, usually because there is an addition of citric acid to those to give it tartness that is desired by some consumers,” said Dr. Clark Stanford, the associate dean for research at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. ” It’s important to look at the label and see if citric acid has been added.” Sipping on sports drinks can damage your teeth because of the high levels of acid in them, dentists have warned.

A recent study published in the May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, found that an alarming increase in the consumption of sports and energy drinks, especially among adolescents, is causing irreversible damage to teeth–specifically, the high acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel, the glossy outer layer of the tooth.

Some experts called for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — which treats energy drinks as dietary supplements — to require warning labels on the hundreds of energy drinks now on the market.

Sports drinks are loaded with petrochemical artificial colors that have no purpose other than to make a visually appealing beverage. Artificial colors offer no nutritional value which support the assertion by many that sports drinks are a complete waste of money and can really harm you.

If you want a real energy drink, try the rehydrating powers of coconut water which match or even better any carbohydrate-electrolyte sports beverage.

Even bananas were found to have the same or more health benefits during heavy exercise than high-tech sports drinks.

4. Specialty Coffee

I know this may disappoint many coffee drinkers, but there are responsible ways to drink coffee and the other ways. If you indulge in big brand name speciality coffee from chains such as Starbucks or McDonalds, not only are you getting coffee from toxic coffee beans, but you’re consuming some serious calories.

How about a Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino Blended Coffee? Try 660 calories. Or what about a Java Chip Frappuccino Blended Coffee. That’ll be 600 calories. Why would you want to add this kind of artificially liquid creamed, refined sugared, artificially sweetened coffee to your daily beverage consumption?

Recently, there has been a big push to promote the benefits of coffee. From fighting free radicals, to improving memory, diabetes, parkinsons, and even reducing cancer risk, there is plenty of studies touting the so-called miraculous health benefits of coffee. But are these claims true and non-biased or exagerrated claims with alterior motives? Some of the biggest promoters of coffee’s health benefits come from the largest producers themselves such as those in Brazil.

I personally love coffee, but I will only drink bold organic varities that are grown responsibily. You won’t find this kind of coffee at Starbucks or any other kind of large coffee chain. The only types of coffee beans you’ll get from any major chain of specialty coffee is pesticide-laden and chemically grown.

The coffee plant is one of the most heavily sprayed crops. It’s coated with chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides, nothing you’d want to be ingesting. These chemicals then leech into the ground water and make people sick in local areas where coffee is grown.

Even though many chemicals that have been found to be harmful to the environment have been banned or are strictly regulated in the U.S. or Europe, they remain legal to use in less-developed countries, including many countries that grow coffee.

Endosulfan, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, disulfoton, methyl parathion, triadimefon and cypermethrin and a few of many chemicals and pesticides used to grow coffee all over the world.

Coffee should be brewed within 4-6 weeks after roasting. The industry standard shelf life is 1 year. Over 70% of coffee importers do not follow these protocols far exceeding the time range for sales and stock.

Organic coffee is one of the choices you could resort to especially if you are searching for high quality and the best coffee blends. This is fast becoming a favorite among coffee aficionados because of its high end and awesome taste and aroma. Moreover, coffee lovers who are health conscious at the same time find this coffee choice the most remarkable one.

There are renowned coffee beans and brands for organic java which are trusted by countless coffee lovers around the world. Green Mountain: Fair Trade Organic, Sprouts Farmers Market and Tom Thumb (Safeway): O Organics European Blend are just few of the brands established in the market today.

The best way to help our migratory birds is to purchase certified Bird Friendly coffees. Rather than being grown on land that has been cleared of all other vegetation, Bird Friendly coffees are planted under a canopy of trees that provide habitat for birds. In addition to being shade grown, Bird Friendly coffees are also organic, meaning they’re grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that poison the environment. See what Kenn Kaufman says about Bird Friendly Coffee on his blog.

The Rainforest Alliance has a broad social and ecological mandate that spans many sectors including agriculture. Coffee is one of the agricultural crops targeted by Rainforest Alliance programs. The coffee certification program is aimed at ensuring that coffee workers are paid fairly, treated with respect and that the crop they tend does not contribute to soil erosion, water contamination and forest destruction: the Rainforest Alliance seal means that both social and environmental values are respected.

5. Pasteurized Milk

The United States is the world’s largest producer of pasteurized cow milk, but oddly enough it is also one of the world’s smallest consumers. The dairy industry thus has a vested interest in eliminating all raw milk suppliers from the market place to enforce and increase per capita consumption of pasteurized milk which is lagging behind most of the world.

Pasteurized milk is perhaps one of the most nutritionally deficient beverages misappropriately labeled as a “perfect food.” Raw milk enthusiasts have known for a very long time that unpasteurized milk is the ONLY milk worthy of consumption. Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

All cow’s milk (regular and ‘organic’) has 59 active hormones, scores of allergens, fat and cholesterol. Cow milk may also have measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins (up to 200 times the safe levels), up to 52 powerful antibiotics (perhaps 53, with LS-50), blood, pus, feces, bacteria and viruses.

The primary claim by the food industry: As the world’s population climbs, the sustainable production and distribution of food is balanced against the need to ensure its chemical and microbiological safety. Scientists believe they must irradiate, pasteurize and sterilize all foods to keep the public safe.

And pasteurization does not always kill the bacteria for Johne’s disease suspected of causing Crohn’s disease in humans with which most confinement cows are infected. Much commercial milk is now ultra-pasteurized to get rid of heat-resistant bacteria and give it a longer shelf life. Ultra-pasteurization is a violent process that takes milk from a chilled temperature to above the boiling point in less than two seconds.

One of the possible methods of pasteurization uses propylene oxide, a highly flammable and “highly toxic” chemical used in thermobaric weapons. Foods treated with the chemical are banned in some countries, including Canada and Mexico, as well as the European Union.

A very interesting point addressed by Marco Torres is do we really need to drink any milk of any kind from another species besides our own?

I love coconut, nut and seed milks. Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, and hemp seeds all make nutrient dense, great tasting milks and they’re all essentially made the same way and you can make them yourself without any sophisticated equipment.

6. Processed Fruit Juice

One of the great scams of the industrial food cartel is the so-called “fresh” orange juice sold in supermarkets.

Ever wonder why commercial orange juice–even the premium, not-from-concentrate, “100-percent pure” juice kind–tastes the same each time you buy it, but doesn’t taste exactly like a freshly peeled orange?

Turns out there’s a lot more to making juice than simply squeezing some citrus. As part of the mass-production process, big-name brands like Tropicana, Minute Maid, Simply Orange, and Florida’s Natural add artificial flavouring in order to make sure your juice tastes consistent from carton to carton–and to make sure it tastes like oranges.

“It really rocks people’s world to learn that most orange juice is not a fresh product,” says Alisa Hamilton, author of “Squeezed: What You Don’t Want to Know About Orange Juice”

Pasteurized, not-from-concentrate orange juice takes up a lot of storage space. In order to keep it from spoiling without adding chemical preservatives, the companies “deaerate” (or strip the oxygen out of) the juice. (Another surprise: During production, deaerated juice often sit in million-gallon tanks for as long as a year before it hits supermarket shelves.)

A shocking investigation has also revealed that some of the best known brands of apple juice contain arsenic.

American apple juice is made from apple concentrate, 60% of which is imported from China. Other countries may use pesticides that contain arsenic, a heavy metal known to cause cancer and heart disease.

Findings of a Consumer Reports investigation about arsenic and lead levels in apple juice and grape juice have prompted the organization to call for government standards to limit consumers’ exposure to these toxins.

Fruit juices of any kind are rarely 100% juice and specific additives to extend shelf life can be hazardous to your health and your family.

7. Any Artificially Sweetened Beverage

Aspartame and sucralose are still used in hundreds of artificially sweetened drinks including cocktails, milks, juices, cold coffees and sodas. If you see either of these two ingredients in any beverage, please do not consume it. They are two of the most toxic sweeteners in the world.

Monsanto, the creator of Aspartame knows all about the dangers. They fund the American Diabetics Association, the Conference of the American College of Physicians and Congress.

When aspartame is ingested into the digestive tract, it breaks down into numerous other poisons. The intact Aspartame molecule and its diketopiperazine form are vastly worse poisonings than any of the other poisonings which arise from it during digestion, and liver processing of the digestive blood, which is delivered directly to the liver via the portal vein. The other poisonings, as mentioned, are indeed horrendous but Aspartame from gum is far worse, making even the smaller amounts contained in chewing gum strikingly dangerous and damaging.

Aspartame, via ingestion into the digestive tract, is made into some ten other poisonings by the digestive processes, and then excepting that which is delivered directly to the pancreas, they are transported straight to the liver via the portal vein, where they then are very partially dealt with, and partially reprocessed. Afterwards, they are sent in somewhat lesser concentration to the entire body, lessening the amount which eventually goes to the brain.

A report from scientists at Duke University demonstrated that the artificial sweetener Splenda (sucralose) and its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume the product.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 11 to 27 percent of ingested sucralose is absorbed by the human body (FDA 1998). Research published by the manufacturer of sucralose (Roberts 2000) shows that when 8 healthy male adults where given sucralose (in 1 mg/kg amounts), between 10.4% and 30.6% of the sucralose was absorbed. In addition, 1.6% to 12.2% of the sucralose accumulates in the body.

Splenda/sucralose is simply chlorinated sugar; a chlorocarbon. Common chlorocarbons include carbon tetrachloride, trichlorethelene and methylene chloride, all deadly. Chlorine is nature’s Doberman attack dog, a highly excitable, ferocious atomic element employed as a biocide in bleach, disinfectants, insecticide, WWI poison gas and hydrochloric acid.

In test animals Splenda produced swollen livers, as do all chlorocarbon poisons, and also calcified the kidneys of test animals in toxicity studies. The brain and nervous system are highly subject to metabolic toxicities and solvency damages by these chemicals. Their high solvency attacks the human nervous system and many other body systems including genetics and the immune function. Thus, chlorocarbon poisoning can cause cancer, birth defects, and immune system destruction. These are well known effects of Dioxin and PCBs which are known deadly chlorocarbons.

Natasha Longo has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.

Banana Halts Prostate Cancer Growth by >80%:

ripe bananas

An extract of banana peel (from organic bananas) was shown slow the growth of prostate cancer cells by over 80% in this study, by inhibiting the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Prostate enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH) in men is also caused by excess DHT, so in theory banana peel extract could also help with this condition.

Intriguingly, this is exactly what was observed with mice in this same study—their prostate overgrowth was significantly inhibited by banana peel extract. What makes banana peels so special?

Previous lab studies have shown them to be rich sources of powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Although no studies have been done using banana peels on humans, several population studies have shown that regular banana consumption may reduce colon cancer risk by up to 72%, breast cancer risk in women by 43% and kidney cancer risk by 46%.

Bananas (and peels) are also rich sources of melatonin: in fact, eating two bananas quadrupled melatonin levels in healthy adults in one recent study. This is relevant to prostate cancer: another study from Europe showed that men with the highest levels of melatonin had 75% less risk of prostate cancer!

And alkaline diet fans take note: one medium banana has the same alkalizing power as 1.5 cups of pure lemon juice!

Aluminum Accumulates in the Bones and in the Brain

By Vivian Goldschmidt, MAaluminum-foil-osteoporosis

The researchers found dangerously high levels of aluminum in foods after being cooked, reheated, and even cooled on aluminum foil. The cause for alarm is that when aluminum accumulates in the body, it can lead to osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.

What’s more, Dr. Zubaidy, one of the study authors, comments that:

“The higher the temperature, the more the leaching. Foil is not suitable for cooking and is not suitable for using with vegetables like tomatoes, citrus juice or spices.”2

On the other hand, the researchers also noted that foil can be considered safe to wrap cold foods, since no leaching was observed without heating. They also did not find a difference if the shiny or dull side were in contact with food.

Aluminum Competes With Calcium, Weakening Bones

High aluminum levels in the body alter bone mineralization, matrix formation, as well as parathyroid and bone cell activity.3 Ironically, one of the most common signs of excessive aluminum accumulation is hypercalcemia or high calcium levels in the blood.

This happens because the presence of aluminum impedes calcium deposition in bone, thus leading to elevated blood calcium levels.3 As a result, PTH secretion, the hormone secreted by the parathyroid hormone, is greatly depressed.3 Additionally, chronic aluminum toxicity greatly reduces osteoblast population and inhibits bone mineralization, resulting in osteoporosis.3

Mounting Evidence Links Aluminum to Alzheimer’s

While the study is less adamant about the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s than it is about the osteoporosis connection, it does point to evidence that aluminum is deposited in brain tissue. The researchers note that previous studies have found an aluminum build-up in autopsies performed on Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Protect Your Bones and Your Brain

In view of this, you really should avoid using aluminum foil or aluminum utensils for cooking. So here are a few simple steps you can take right away:

> Never cook, heat up, or place hot food on aluminium foil. Use foil only to store cold food in the refrigerator, or to wrap cold sandwiches. I use tempered glass pans. They are easily available in just about every supermarket or hardware store.
> Avoid storing tomatoes, citrus fruits, or spices in foil.
> Replace foil with wax paper if you wish to store food while still hot. Or use glass food storage containers. I keep a variety of sizes handy in my kitchen.
> Never use aluminium pots or cooking utensils. Instead, invest in stainless steel pots and pans.

As you can see, it’s easy to avoid aluminum in the kitchen.

It’s over. The debate is settled.

It’s sugar, not fat, that causes heart attacks.

Oops. Fifty years of doctors’ advice and government eating guidelines have been wrong. We’ve been told to swap eggs for Cheerios. But that recommendation is dead wrong. In fact, it’s very likely that this bad advice has killed millions of Americans.

A rigorously done new study shows that those with the highest sugar intake had a four-fold increase in their risk of heart attacks compared to those with the lowest intakes. That’s 400%! Just one 20-ounce soda increases your risk of a heart attack by about 30%.

This study of more than 40,000 people, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, accounted for all other potential risk factors including total calories, overall diet quality, smoking, cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and alcohol.

This follows on the heels of decades of research that has been mostly ignored by the medical establishment and policy makers. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends getting no more than 25% of your total calories from added sugar. Really?? This study showed that your risk of heart attacks doubles if sugar makes up 20% of your calories.

Yet more than 70% of Americans consume 10% of their daily calories from sugar. And about 10% of Americans consume one in every four of their calories from sugar.

Failed Dietary Guidelines

U.S. Dietary Guidelines provide no limit for added sugar, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still lists sugar as a “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) substance. That classification lets the food industry add unlimited amounts of sugar to our food. At least the American Heart Association recommends that our daily diet contain no more than 5% to 7.5% added sugar. Yet most of us are eating a lot more. Most of us don’t know that a serving of tomato sauce has more sugar than a serving of Oreo cookies, or that fruit yogurt has more sugar than a Coke, or that most breakfast cereals — even those made with whole grain — are 75% sugar. That’s not breakfast, it’s dessert!

This is a major paradigm shift. For years, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that fat causes heart attacks and raises cholesterol, and that sugar is harmless except as a source of empty calories. They are not empty calories. As it turns out, sugar calories are deadly calories. Sugar causes heart attacks, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia, and is the leading cause of liver failure in America.

The biggest culprit is sugar-sweetened beverages including sodas, juices, sports drinks, teas and coffees. They are by far the single biggest source of sugar calories in our diet. In fact, more than 37% of our sugar calories come from soda. The average teenage boy consumes 34 teaspoons of sugar a day, or about 544 calories from sugar. Even more troubling, this isn’t just putting kids at risk for heart attacks at some remote later date in their lives. It’s killing them before their 20th birthday.

This new research syncs with decades of data on how sugar causes insulin resistance, high triglycerides, lower HDL (good) cholesterol and dangerous small LDL (bad) cholesterol. It also triggers the inflammation we now know is at the root of heart disease.

And fats, including saturated fats, have been unfairly blamed. With the exception of trans fats, fats are actually protective. This includes omega-3 fats, nuts and olive oil, which was proven to reduce heart attack risk by more than 30% in a recent large randomized controlled study.

Here’s the simple fact: Sugar calories are worse than other calories. All calories are not created equal. A recent study of more than 175 countries found that increasing overall calories didn’t increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but increasing sugar calories did — dramatically.

Vitamin D upregulates a gene called GDF-15, which suppresses inflammation and appears to protect against prostate cancer. Vitamin D3 is a an anti-cancer powerhouse. Most of us do not get enough sunshine, make sure you are taking vitamin D3!

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study recently published in the journal Prostate offers compelling evidence that inflammation may be the link between Vitamin D and prostate cancer. Specifically, the study shows that the gene GDF-15, known to be upregulated by Vitamin D, is notably absent in samples of human prostate cancer driven by inflammation.

“When you take Vitamin D and put it on prostate cancer cells, it inhibits their growth. But it hasn’t been proven as an anti-cancer agent. We wanted to understand what genes Vitamin D is turning on or off in prostate cancer to offer new targets,” says James R. Lambert, PhD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and associate research professor in the CU School of Medicine Department of Pathology.

Since demonstrating that Vitamin D upregulates the expression of GDF-15, Lambert and colleagues, including Scott Lucia, MD, wondered if this gene might be a mechanism through which Vitamin D works in prostate cancer. Initially it seemed as if the answer was no.

“We thought there might be high levels of GDF-15 in normal tissue and low levels in prostate cancer, but we found that in a large cohort of human prostate tissue samples, expression of GDF-15 did not track with either normal or cancerous prostate tissue,” Lambert says.

But then the team noticed an interesting pattern: GDF-15 was uniformly low in samples of prostate tissue that contained inflammation.

“Inflammation is thought to drive many cancers including prostate, gastric and colon. Therefore, GDF-15 may be a good thing in keeping prostate tissue healthy – it suppresses inflammation, which is a bad actor potentially driving prostate cancer,” Lambert says.

The study used a sophisticated computer algorithm to analyze immunohistochemical (IHC) data, a task that in previous studies had been done somewhat subjectively by pathologists. With this new technique, Lambert, Lucia and colleagues were able to quantify the expression of the GDF-15 protein and inflammatory cells by IHC staining on slides taken from these human prostate samples.

Additionally encouraging is that the gene GDF-15 was shown to suppress inflammation by inhibiting another target, NFkB. This target, NFkB, has been the focus of many previous studies in which it has been shown to promote inflammation and contribute to tumor formation and growth; however, researchers have previously been unable to drug NFkB to decrease its tumor-promoting behavior.

“There’s been a lot of work on inhibiting NFkB,” says Lambert. “Now from this starting point of Vitamin D in prostate cancer, we’ve come a long way toward understanding how we might use GDF-15 to target NFkB, which may have implications in cancer types far beyond prostate.”

LEADING doctors are demanding an end to the widespread prescription of statins, warning that one in four Britons will soon be at risk of terrible side effects from the controversial heart drugs.

Published: By LUCY JOHNSTON

lipitor-box
Statins can lead to a 20 per cent chance of patients developing heart disease

Statins can lead to a 20 per cent chance of patients developing heart disease [GETTY]

“Statins might alter what is written on your death certificate but they are extremely unlikely to change the date”
Dr Kendrick

Those sounding the alarm include Dr Kailash Chand, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, who suffered “awful” muscle pains while taking statins and claims that plans to prescribe them to millions more adults will “only benefit drug companies”.

The drugs are currently offered to patients with a 20 per cent risk of developing heart disease to help keep their cholesterol levels in check.

Around seven million adults take the drugs. Under guidance to be published later this month by Government drug watchdog the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence (NICE), the threshold will be cut to a 10 per cent risk.

This will see millions more adults routinely prescribed the drugs. Aseem Malhotra, a cardiology specialist registrar, and Dr Malcolm Kendrick, a GP and cholesterol expert, will write to Nice next week, urging it to reconsider the move.

They will ask the watchdog not to rely on evidence from drug company sponsored trials, which have been shown to play down the risk of side effects including diabetes, impotence, cataracts, muscle pains, mental impairment, fatigue and liver dysfunction.

Dr Chand last night warned that giving the drugs to low-risk patients was “a commercialisation device” and not in their interests. Many experts say it is unnecessary to “medicalise” a problem which could be controlled with simple dietary changes, pointing to a study showing that eating an apple a day cuts cholesterol levels as effectively as taking statins.

Dr Kendrick, who has written a book called The Great Cholesterol Con, said: “I can stop people dying from heart disease by pushing them off the edge of a cliff. They might not like the end result.

“Statins might alter what is written on your death certificate but they are extremely unlikely to change the date.”

Dr Malhotra said while patients with established heart disease can benefit from statins, the “mass medicalisation” of a healthier group is likely to do more harm than good.

He added: “Widespread prescription of these drugs to low-risk groups will contribute to immeasurable extra health care costs.”

Dr Malhotra pointed to the “huge discrepancy” between reports of side effects from drug company-sponsored trials and from independent research.

Company-funded studies show side effects in less than one per cent of patients. Independent studies show them in at least 20 per cent.

Inquiries have suggested adverse effects can be minimised in drug company trials by excluding patients if they fail to tolerate statins during “run-in” periods or if they have certain pre-existing health problems.

Opponents of statins also claim some side effects such as muscle pain or confusion are not included in drug company reports. Claims of widespread side effects are borne out by the fact that up to half of patients voluntarily stop taking statins within a year of prescription.

In some parts of the country, hospital clinics have been set up to ensure patients continue to take the drugs despite the problems. Dr Malhotra said: “It is time to practise medicine according to what is best for patients, not to feed drug company profits.”

Dr Chand, speaking to the Sunday Express in a personal capacity rather than in his official BMA role, told how he suffered debilitating side effects after he was prescribed statins five years ago.

The 60-year-old GP from Tameside, Greater Manchester, said: “After a few weeks I started getting awful muscle aches which were almost everywhere and which would wake me up at night.

“Initially I didn’t know what was wrong and put the symptoms down to stress. The drug companies were saying this drug was the best thing since sliced bread and should be given to everyone. I didn’t blame them.”

However, Dr Chand, a father-of-one, carried out his own research and discovered concerns about side effects including muscle pain. After a year he took himself off the drugs.

“The only way to find out was to stop taking the pills, irrespective of any medical advice,” he said. “Things started to improve within two to three weeks. Now I have no symptoms at all.

“I am hugely concerned about the new advice on statins. The only people who will benefit are drug companies.

“I do not undermine the role of statins in those people who have heart disease but for healthy people this is nothing but a commercialisation device.”

Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal, said: “The decision to increase use of statins is based on trial data only a few chosen people have seen. We need to demand greater transparency about the research on these drugs. Why aren’t we looking at changes in lifestyle that reduce heart disease risk instead of medicalising vast numbers of people?”

A spokesman for Nice said: “Drug therapy plays a key role in the management of people with high cholesterol levels and this is properly reflected in the draft guideline which provides clear advice on the most cost-effective drugs, based on the best available research evidence.

“However, and just as importantly, the guideline also recommends that standard models of care should include advice and support in lifestyle changes for both primary and secondary prevention of heart disease.”

He said Nice had no concerns that industry-sponsored research “need necessarily be of lower quality or relevance than independent research”.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said it could not comment.

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